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Should You Teach Your Baby Sign Language?

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/24/2006 | Parenting
One of the trendiest baby communication techniques being talked about lately is sign language. The main reason for its popularity is the fact that it allows you to communicate with your baby before a spoken language is learned.

With baby sign language your baby is able to tell others exactly what they want and need. Because of this, the number of baby tantrums can be greatly reduced.

Every parent has witnessed the familiar signs of frustration in their baby before baby communication skills are developed and baby is unable to let others know what they are feeling and what they may need.

Gestures are certainly within the range of a baby's repertoire long before the ability to articulate words is developed. Now, no one is suggesting that you sit down and attempt to teach your baby using the American Sign Language system. You just need a fairly small range of gestures that mean "I want", "please help", "I'm hungry" etc. If these gestures are understood by both baby and parent, they will serve the purpose of improving communication.

You should start teaching your baby sign language or, more accurately, basic gestures, by example. Because these gestures are visual in nature they are much easier for your baby to learn than spoken words.

You need to get to the stage where your baby begins to connect a basic gesture with an action, activity or object. If you do this consistently, you will find that over time your baby starts to mimic these gestures. You can also accompany the gesture with the word so that, eventually, your baby will graduate to using the spoken form.

Babies learn by imitating what they see adults do, so if you are consistent with using some basic gestures for certain activities and objects, you'll be surprised at how quickly your baby picks them up. The most important thing is to keep it fun. Turn the activity of learning sign language into a game and you will see the best results.

Plan to develop a positive and informative method of baby sign language early. This communication with your baby will be a great platform for communication and assist in their growing experience.

Remember, good communication between you and your offspring will be the basis from which they will develop the most important life skill of all...being able to communicate with others as they make their way in the world.

You will also tend to find that the better the communication channels you have with your child, the better behaved they will be.